By Brad Berreman @bradberreman24 on April 18, 2014
After struggling early in the season, the Memphis Grizzlies won their final five games to get to the 50-win plateau and clinch a playoff spot.
Center Marc Gasol had another solid season for Memphis, and he matched his career-best by averaging 14.6 points per game. But here are five reasons why he deserves to repeat as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this year.
Simply put, Gasol has done nothing this season to diminish his status as one of the top defensive big men in the league.
The Grizzlies were 40-19 with Gasol in the lineup during the regular season, and 10-13 when he was sidelined by a knee injury. He may get a few votes for league MVP based on that, but I’ll stick to making his case for Defensive Player of the Year
Gasol averaged 5.5 defensive rebounds per game last season when he won Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged slightly more defensive rebounds per game this season (5.8 per game).
Gasol actually averaged slightly fewer blocked shots per game this season (1.3; 1.7 in 2012-2013), but his instincts alter how other teams attack Memphis’ defense and their perimeter defenders can be more aggressive when he’s in the lineup.
Gasol missed 23 regular season games with a left knee injury, during which time Memphis allowed over 100 points 10 times and were notably worse in any notable defensive metric. By comparison, the Grizzlies allowed 100 or more points just 11 times over their final 45 games after Gasol returned to the lineup.
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